I need to install a Linux OS (SuSE or RedHat) on my machine running Windows 7. What is the best way to have a dedicated physical partition or virtual partition?

3 Answers 3


You need more than one partition. Usually, 3 partitions are fine:

  • One for swap, twice as big as your physical memory.
  • One for / (the system, binaries, config, libs, logs)
  • One for /home where all the userdata is.

I never experienced a drawback from virtual partitions, but somehow I prefer dedicated partitions.

  • 1
    I don't think this is the information the OP is looking for...
    – Pylsa
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 11:00
  • But what is he looking for? Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 11:02
  • Thank's to All for answering.. I remember one thing, i can't use dedicated partition bcoz i have only one partition for Windows7 and other small partition for Windows recovery.. so i will go for VM.. Any suggestion for a User friendly VM software you suggestion?
    – AlBouazizi
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 15:37
  • For a different question, you should open a different question, which has the right tags, attracts the right people, fits to the headline. You can put a link here to your new question and there to your old one, imho. However - recent partitioning software allows to resize existing partitions, so I don't see a real reason. Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 17:21
  • @BoodPhilia, @AlBouazizi Ah, I think now I understand. It's not about primary/extended partition, but about real installation, or installation to a virtual machine. The word partition brought me on the wrong path. Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 19:17

Basically, if you want to run two different operating systems on the same system, you have two options to achieve this.

  • Dual Boot
  • Virtualisation

Dual boot

A dual boot is a system set-up where the available drive space is divided into multiple spaces with each having its own operating system. The system's boot loader, the piece of software that allows you to boot into your operating system, will have you make an option which operating system you want to boot. With this set-up, every operating system has its own piece of drive space.

This set-up will ask the least of your hardware but will not allow you to run both operating systems simultaneously, you can only boot one at a time.


When you're virtualising hardware to install an operating system on a virtual machine, you're running that machine in a host operating system. Basically, Windows 7 is booted and runs software to emulate a machine on which Linux is installed. Although this allows you to run two or more simultaneous operating systems, it will ask more of your hardware than running one single operating system. Other than that, there are certain (hardware) limitations and compatibility issues you should consider when using virtualisation.

There are several virtualisation products out there, the most known being VMware (commercial) and VirtualBox (open-source).

  • My HW: HP Pavilion dv6 Notebook PC-Intel Core 2 Duo CPU P8800 @2.66GHZ 2.67 GHZ-- MEM 4.00GB-- 64-bit OS..Windows7 Home Premium. 130GB Free disk space
    – AlBouazizi
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 15:47
  • @Albouazizi Well it depends on what you are trying to achieve, what programs will you be running inside the guest os?
    – Pylsa
    Commented Apr 15, 2011 at 5:53

From a performance point of view, a physical installation is preferable to a virtual install. Other factors, such as certain hardware being unavailable to the VM will also impact your decision.

Generally, I use VMs for such things as testing certain things in a clean environment, or development, where a number of machines need to be available (multiple Asterisk installs and so on).

  • i have no choice to only use VM bcoz i found only windows7 partition and the other partition is for windows recovery.. so What VM you suggest? thank you again
    – AlBouazizi
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 15:41
  • If you do wish to install to the local drive, whatever distro you choose can resize the Windows parition to make room for itself. On the point of VM, I would recommend VirtualBox from Sun/Oracle.
    – gerryk
    Commented Apr 15, 2011 at 9:29

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